With their colorful outfits, blaring music and a huge crowd following them, it would have been hard for anyone within a mile of the performers at the Bacchanal Bashment to ignore the annual celebration of West Indian culture that took place Saturday afternoon.
Dozens of men and women dressed in colorful spandex, feathery headdresses and sparkling tops waited before the parade, fixing makeup and finalizing outfits. Participants in the event came from a variety of clubs and organizations at the University of Connecticut, though the actual event was organized by the West Indian Student Organization.
Some participants wore only the bare minimum, sporting bikini bottoms with tape, band-aids and other decorations covering their chests, while others wore elaborate outfits with flags of the countries they were representing.
Every participant spoke about the hard work and dedication that went into preparing for the event, from practicing the dances to putting together the outfits.
“We had practices almost every night of the week. A lot went into putting this together, in terms of workshops to create the costumes and things like that, on top of our academic schoolwork and whatnot. It took a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Mikayla Alexander, a sixth-semester biomedical engineering major and the president of the National Society of Black Engineers at UConn.
The first phase of the event was a parade that went from the South quad to the Phillip E. Austin building, then looped back to Fairfield Way. Dancers piled onto the back of a large truck, which included a speaker set and DJ, while the rest of the participants followed close behind, dancing and singing in the street.
Crowds that gathered on sidewalk cheered as dancers moved and grinded on one another. As the parade went through the UConn campus, the crowd, which followed close behind the procession, seemed to grow only larger. Some of those along the route held up flags to show their support for the event.
As the parade went on, observers only seemed to get more into it, singing and grinding with some of the performers, and even with other observers.
“I think the event’s really going great. I think it was really well put together,” said Uchenna Ogbejesi, an eighth-semester economics major. “I think, with the music and the dancing, they’re doing a good job.”
The truck eventually came to a stop, and the crowd began following a pickup truck, which boasted a similar DJ setup. That lead the crowd to Fairfield Way, where the crowd listened to special guest performers and watched the participants, divided into “float one,” “float two” and “float three,” compete in a dance competition.
The crowd cleared a space in front of the stage, which performers used to conduct choreographed dances involving dozens of people.
“Everyone’s having a great time. It’s great to see people of all different cultures come together and have fun. I wish more people who were into this thing would come out, because they’d enjoy it,” said Michael Boateng, an eighth-semester nutritional sciences major.
Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.